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3 Ways to Save Money on Textbooks This Fall

By Lorena Roberts

As the beginning of the fall semester officially rolls around, you’re probably experiencing some financial anxiety. As if scraping up tuition funds wasn’t enough, college students across the country are also worried about how much textbooks are going to run them. Textbook prices are the largest financial stressor facing our college students and their families (after tuition, of course), and, on average, college students spend anywhere from $400 to $1,000 per semester on their books.

However, according to a recent press release, students have more options today than ever when it comes to getting the materials they need for class. Having choices means saving money. Here are three steps you can take towards saving money this fall:

1. Ask your professor.

Before you go out and blow money on the latest version of a textbook, ask the professor what’s required. Sometimes professors like to toot their own horn and give students “recommended reading materials” in addition to what’s required. Make sure you are clear on what you’ll need to succeed before spending money on a “fun read” recommended by a professor.

Your professors might even know where to go to buy the textbook at a reasonable price! In fact, it’s possible that their previous students are selling their copies… so before you head out and swipe your card at the bookstore, check with your professors first.

2. Consider how you learn best.

College is far from a “one size fits all” model. Most textbooks are now available in print and digital formats, with varying price points.

Before you start making your “to buy” list for college textbooks, consider what’s going to help you be most successful. Maybe you’re perfectly fine with a textbook that’s all online. However, maybe you have to have a physical copy to write notes down in. Whatever you prefer, that’s where you should spend your money. There’s no point in buying physical copies of a textbook you’re never going to crack open.

3. Do some late-night cramming.

Most of us are in denial about the start of a new school year. Researching the materials you will need for each of your classes probably falls at the bottom of your to-do list. But before you get too behind on their required readings, do some research on what your classes are like and what previous students would recommend.

If you are already feeling behind — it’s okay! Lucky for you, most textbooks are now offered online…you can get access to the information you need almost instantly.

Cengage Unlimited, an all-access subscription service, is one new option for saving on textbooks costs. You pay just one fee (about $120 a semester or $180 a year) to get access to every eBook in the Cengage library (22,000+ titles), as well as additional homework and study tools. And, if you still want a print version of your textbooks, you can rent one for just $7.99 per book. As part of your cram session, you can use the Cengage Unlimited Calculator to figure out how much you could save, and if it makes sense based on the textbooks your professors require.

College is expensive. No one’s arguing about that. But what doesn’t have to be a financial burden is your textbook situation. Before you break the bank at the official bookstore of your university, check out these three ways to save.

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